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In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville admonished his educated European readers claiming that "[t] oday there are two great peoples on earth who, starting from different points, seem to advance toward the same goal: these are the Russians and the Anglo-Americans. Both grew up in obscurity; and while the attention of men was occupied elsewhere, they suddenly took their place in the first rank of nations, and the world learned of their birth and their greatness nearly at the same time. All other peoples seem to have almost reached the limits drawn by nature, and have nothing more to do except maintain themselves; but these two are growing.5 All the others have stopped or move ahead only with a thousand efforts; these two alone walk with an easy and rapid stride along a path whose limit cannot yet be seen. The American struggles against obstacles that nature opposes to him; the Russian is grappling with men. The one combats the wilderness and barbarism; the other, civilization clothed in all its arms. Consequently the conquests of the American are made with the farmers plow, those of the Russian with the soldiers sword. To reach his goal the first relies on personal interest, and, without directing them, allows the strength and reason of individuals to operate. The second in a way concentrates all the power of society in one man. The one has as principal means of action liberty; the other, servitude. Their point of departure is different, their paths are varied; nonetheless, each one of them seems called by a secret design of Providence to hold in its hands one day the destinies of half the world. (2010, 655-656)

Russia - US Relations

Edward W. Walker, the comparative political scientist who worked at UC Berkeley from 1993 to 2017, argued in April 2019 that "Putin's decision to return to the presidency, as well as his 2012 policy pivot, were the product of his understanding of Russia's - and not simply his own - interests. In my view, Putin, and indeed most of the Russian political elite, genuinely believe that the United States, and the West broadly, pose a threat to Russian political stability and security. They are convinced that Western democracy promotion, and the West's public embrace of "universal values," are hypocritical smokescreens masking U.S. ambitions to remain the world's sole superpower and geopolitical hegemon. They also are convinced that the changes advocated by Western democracy promoters would produce chaos at home and weakness abroad, not prosperity and strength. And they understand the tolerance entailed in liberalism as incompatible with traditional Russian values and Russian 'civilization'..... the Russian political elite, including those few who are still relatively well-disposed toward liberal democracy, have cause to believe that while the United States insists that other states comply with the rules of the "liberal international order," it acts as if it, and it alone, has the right to violate those rules.

"Russia's mass oppositional demonstrations [in 2011] ... only reinforced his conviction that the West was simply incapable of refraining from destabilizing non-democratic regimes, and that Russia, sooner-or-later, would be in its crosshairs. That in turn suggests why Putin would then authorize a concerted Russian assault on Western democracy, a risky project that goes well beyond demonizing the United States and its allies at home. For Putin, Russia is simply doing to the West what the West has been doing to it. And he intends to win the 'meddling war'."

Former US ambassador in Russia Michael McFaul tweeted 09 November 2016 "Putin intervened in our elections and succeeded." The statements of McFaul that Russia successfully intervened in the US presidential election are absurd, Presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov stated. "I am asking you to recall president [Vladimir] Putin's statement made at the Valdai Club meeting where he said that it would be absurd to think that any country, including Russia, could influence the election campaign in the United States," Peskov told reporters.

The Washington Post reported 05 January 2017 "Senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trumps victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow, according to U.S. officials who said that American intelligence agencies intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election in which Russian officials congratulated themselves on the outcome. The ebullient reaction among high-ranking Russian officials including some who U.S. officials believe had knowledge of the countrys cyber campaign to interfere in the U.S. election contributed to the U.S. intelligence communitys assessment that Moscows efforts were aimed at least in part at helping Trump win the White House."

With a pro-Russian president installed in the White House, the Kremlin could expect dramatic changes in America policies across the board, some of which were in evidence even before Trump was inaugurated. Donald Trump was the agent of interests as hostile to the American people as any invading army could be.

  • "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." [Donald J. Trump - 8:50 AM - 22 Dec 2016] The strategic nuclear account has been becalmed by the Russian disinclination towards control and reduction, but otherwise this dog has not been barking. Trump will accomplish little except to derange the American nuclear weapons program, to the advantage of Russia, under the able leadership of the new Energy Secretary who was unable to remember that he wanted to abolish the Deparment.
  • "The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th." [Donald J. Trump - 8:26 AM - 12 Dec 2016] The only concerted opposition to the F-35 is to be found on Russia Today and Sputnk News. The Russian stealth fighter program - the PAK-FA - has run out of gas, and Russian propaganda is aimed at unhinging the F-35.
  • Trump launched several social-media attacks against US intelligence agencies, especially over their assessment over the Russian hacking scandal. Trump was said to be working on a plan to restructure the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Trumps plans included pruning the Central Intelligence Agency, specifically, cutting back on staffing at its Virginia headquarters and pushing more people out into field posts around the world. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) warned Trump against dismantling the intelligence community. The intelligence community would be too busy playing "re-organization" 52-card pickup to have much time left over to catch Russia spies or dis-information agents.
  • Trump's choice of former Exxon chief Rex Tillerson for his secretary of state was called America's present to Russia.

Russia is now stronger than any potential aggressor, Russian President Vladimir Putin said 23 December 2016 at an expanded Defense Ministry board meeting. "I would like to draw your attention to the fact that if we just allow ourselves to relax even for a minute, allow at least one major failure in the modernization of the army and navy, in the training of the troops, the situation may change fast," the president said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent out a personal commemorative message to his American counterpart as the US celebrated Independence Day 2016, urging the two countries to mend ties. The history of US-Russian relations proves that when we act as equal partners and respect each others legitimate interests, we can solve the most complicated international problems for the benefit of the both nations and humanity as a whole, wrote Putin in his holiday missive.

But this is precisely the problem, no more, no less. During the Cold War the Soviet Union strove mightily to equal the power of the United States, adn the effort bankrupted the governement and destroyed Moscow's empire that had taken half a millennium to build. Today's Russia is a pale shadow of the Soviet Union, and no amount of nostalgic huffing an puffing can make Russia the equal of America.

Russia is ready and looks forward to restoring bilateral relations with the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin said 09 November 2016, commenting on the news of Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election. "We heard [Trump's] campaign rhetoric while still a candidate for the US presidency, which was focused on restoring the relations between Russia and the United States," President Putin said. "We understand and are aware that it will be a difficult path in the light of the degradation in which, unfortunately, the relationship between Russia and the US are at the moment," he added. Speaking about the degraded state of relations between the countries, the president once again stressed that "it is not our fault that Russia-US relations are as you see them."

Russian Presidential Aide Sergei Glazyev said he believed US president-elect would lift anti-Russian sanctions and reset the relations between Washington and Moscow. "I believe Trump is a practical man, he will lift sanctions on Russia that are harmful to the US business, too. As a result, the trade turnover, financial and economic relations between Russia and the US, as well as the West in general, will be restored and start growing depending on economic situation only," Glazyev said commenting on the outcome of the US presidential election and its possible impact on bilateral relations.

According to Glazyev, the results of the US election show that "the American people don't want war, for the first time in the world's history there is a chance to move to a new global economic order without waging a world war." "Resetting (the relations between Russia and the US) is sure to take place, because the outgoing administration's foreign policy was based on the aggressive approach towards Russia in order to retain Washington's supremacy. We can say that this approach has failed," Glazyev said. He added that from the economic point of view, the US had lost to China so it was important to secure a peaceful transition to the multipolar world while avoiding further military and political tensions.

One of the priorities for the next US president has to be a real reset with Russia, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, adding that anti-Russian sentiment in America has reached boiling point and is at its worst level since the Cold War. The former Republican senator from Nebraska, who served as defense secretary under Barack Obama, said one of the first things the next US leader should do is reach out to Russian President Vladimir Putin to reset relations. Conflicts in the Middle East and across the globe depend on it, he added. I think one of the priorities of the next president is going to have to be a real reset with Russia. Not a button, but a real reset, he said in an exclusive interview with German daily Handelsblatt Global.

Fred Weir outlined the terms of a possible US-Russia Grand Bargain:

  • "Trump told the New York Times ... that "I have a different view on Syria than everybody else," which some understand to mean ending efforts at regime change in Syria and teaming up with Russia to combat the Islamic State. Such a deal might finally enable Russia and the US to jointly sponsor a permanent settlement for that long-suffering country."
  • On Ukraine, " ... tension might be relieved by removing Moscow's deepest fear that Ukraine could join NATO from the table. They suggest that a big power deal similar to the cold war treaty that guaranteed Austria's independence in return for it accepting the status of a neutral buffer zone between East and West, or the similar arrangement over Finland...."
  • "Trump might consider offering to trade acknowledgement of Russia's Crimea annexation for the Kremlin's recognition of Kosovo's independence, granted Russia claims illegally by NATO powers after wresting the territory from sovereign Serbia in a 1999 war."
  • "... there should be urgent discussions about curbing the military buildup in Europe and especially placing limits on US-led plans to install a missile defense system in Europe... "

Jonathan Marshall suggested that "as part of a permanent settlement of the larger Ukraine crisis, the Minsk signatories could agree to hold another, binding referendum in Crimea under international supervision to decide whether it stays under Russian rule or returns to Ukraine."

William Wallace was said to have suggested ".... your commander must cross that field, present himself before this army, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse.... Lower your flags and march straight back to England, stopping at every home you pass by to beg forgiveness for a hundred years of theft, rape, and murder. Do that and your men shall live. Do it not, and every one of you will die today."

Barry R. Posen, director of the Security Studies Program at MIT, maintains that Russia is best viewed as a great power in decline that is seeking to preserve a modicum of security and prestige. In his view, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not managed to reverse Russia's slide, but he has been able to retard it. In his view, "because the West is strong, and relative to Russia likely to get stronger, it is in a position to accommodate some Russian concerns."

Graham Allison wrote in November 2016 : When asked in the wake of Vladimir Putins annexation of Crimea to share his views on Russia, President Obama said: Russia doesnt make anything. Immigrants arent rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity.... The population is shrinking.

"Unfortunately, these claims (and others) about Russia reflect the narrative crafted of the Washington consensus that is based more on wishful thinking than facts. In reality: Russia does make quite a few things, including spacecraft that provide the only means of transportation for U.S astronauts to get to the International Space Station; rocket engines that launch U.S. government satellites into orbit; and air defense systems that shot down the Malaysia airliner over Ukraine. By the best measure, Russias GDP grew by 70 percent in 200015, twice as fast as the U.S. economy. Russias population has been steadily growing since 2009 and Russia is second only to the U.S. and Germany in terms of immigrants.

On 14 January 2017 President of the United States Barack Obama decreed to extend earlier imposed sanctions against Russia over the ongoing developments in Ukraine for another year starting in March 2017. A total of three US presidential executive orders were issued in regard to Russia over the developments in Ukraine, namely in March 16 and 20, 2014, as well as on December 19, 2014 on the globally-debated issue of Crimeas reunification with Russia.

According to the statement from President Obama: "The actions and policies of persons that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, as well as the actions and policies of the Government of the Russian Federation, including its purported annexation of Crimea and its use of force in Ukraine, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

Many of these sanctions can be lifted quickly - with a swift brush of Donald Trump's pen. Executive Order 13660, which declared a "national emergency" to deal with the Ukraine crisis and served as the foundation for the sanctions regime, would have expired in the first week of March 2017. If Trump were to repeal that order or let it expire, it would trigger a domino effect unraveling the several other executive orders based on that national emergency. If Trump lifted sanctions against Russia, it would prompt the European Union and other US allies that hit Moscow with sanctions to reexamine their punitive measures. If France elected Franois Fillon, the prospects could distinctly improve for the lifting of western sanctions against Russia. That would allow an overall easing of tensions and the revival of Russia's stymied relations with European countries.

Trump's most extensive idea of a deal with Russia may be US acceptance of a Russian sphere of influence, or attempting to reduce Russian concerns about NATO, Ukraine, and Georgia through reduced American support for those institutions and countries, as well as a negotiation towards relaxing the sanctions on Russia. Acknowledging Russia's viewpoint on Syria and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may also be part of thd deal. Little of such a deal works in favor of US interests, and many of Trump's advisers might be skeptical of an agreement that weakened NATO or the US position in the Middle East.

Whether Trump's idea of bartering nuclear reductions against an end to Ukraine-related sanctions has any appeal for the Kremlin, however, is another matter. Moscow may well see the two things as belonging in quite different boxes, and its desire for an end to sanctions has more to do with national dignity and image than with economic necessity.

Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Vladimir Putin for an hour on 28 January 2017. Neither the Kremlin statement nor the much shorter White House readout, issued a few hours later, made any reference to sanctions. Officials on both sides said the sanctions -- imposed over Russia's seizure of Crimea in 2014, support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, and alleged interference on Trump's behalf in the U.S. election -- were not discussed in the call. But the Kremlin statement said the presidents stressed the importance of "restoring mutually beneficial trade and economic ties" between their countries. Fighting Islamic State and terrorism was the main topic and a top priority. The White House statement, in fact, mentioned no other specific issue aside from bilateral relations, while the Kremlin readout listed several others including Ukraine, the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, and nuclear proliferation.

Trump -- two weeks into his four-year term -- showed no signs of yielding to demands from within his own Republican Party to distance himself from President Vladimir Putin's regime, instead plunging himself into a fresh political firestorm. "I do respect him. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get along with them," Trump said in an excerpt of an interview with Fox News's Bill O'Reilly that aired before the Super Bowl.

Fox News journalist Bill O'Reilly during an interview 04 February 2017 with Donald Trump asked about what O'Reilly called "atrocities" committed by Putin in the past, and how Trump could respect him knowing this history, Trump responded that "Take a look at what we've done too. We've made a lot of mistakes. .... There are a lot of killers. Weve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our countrys so innocent?" During the Cold War, this was known as "moral equivalence", equating the Evil Empire with the Land of the Free. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said "I don't think there is any equivalency with the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does". McConnell characterized Putin, a former KGB agent, as "a thug." Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia and advisor to president Barack Obama, said "This moral equivalency that Trumps continues to draw between the USA and Russia is disgusting (and inaccurate)".

Across Europe, there were growing concerns that the continent might be wedged between a hostile Russia and a hostile United States.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in her first appearance before the Security Council on February 3, forcefully condemned Russia, saying that "Crimea is a part of Ukraine." Haley said in her remarks that "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine."

White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended Trump's approach to Russia, telling reporters on 14 February 2017 that Trump "has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to de-escalate the violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea. ... The irony of this entire situation is that the president has been incredibly tough on Russia. He continues to raise the issue of Crimea, which the previous administration allowed to be seized by Russia".

Leading Kremlin-connected politicians and analysts were nearly unanimous in attributing the resignation of US national security adviser Michael Flynn to nefarious efforts by U.S. "hawks" to derail a possible improvement in U.S.-Russian relations. They attribute the efforts variously to the "mainstream media," the Democrats stung by freshly inaugurated President Donald Trump and his Republican Party's electoral victories, the U.S. intelligence community, and Republicans they label as "Russophobes."

The WikiLeaks website, which had been accused of being a tool of alleged Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Trump, tweeted an argument similar to that put forward by the Russian experts, saying Flynn resigned because of a "destabilization campaign by US spies, Democrats, press."

On 15 February 2017, Adam Garrie - political commentator and The Duran [a Russian front operation] contributor - suggested that Russia, is a conservative country "frankly their version of conservatism is quite a bit more moderate than some of the fringe elements of the Republicans in the US. But it's a Christian country, and a lot of conservative voters in America are very worried that the Christian heritage of the US is being eroded by a kind of post-modern ultra-liberalism. These people look to Russia as an example. So when these people see these deep state figures, this media-industrial complex, going after a conservative Christian country which poses no tangible threat to the United States, I don't think they're going to buy the lie."

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman accepted Donald Trump's offer to serve as the next ambassador to Russia. Jon Huntsmans family company owns manufacturing operations in Russia and he was involved in the companys early business dealings.

As tensions rose over Syria, Trump seemed to walk away from campaign promise to improve ties with Moscow. Trump had declared that US relations with Russia "may be at an all-time low". His top diplomat offered a similarly grim assessment after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier on 12 April 2017. "Right now we're not getting along with Russia at all," Trump said flatly during a White House news conference. Only weeks ago, it appeared that Trump, who praised Putin throughout the US election campaign, was poised for a potentially historic rapprochement with Russia. "It'd be a fantastic thing if we got along with Putin and if we got along with Russia," Trump said. "That could happen, and it may not happen," he said. "It may be just the opposite."

The Administrationw worked with House Republicans on administration-friendly changes to the Senates overwhelmingly bipartisan bill that imposed new sanctions on Russia and curbs President Donald Trumps power to ease penalties against Moscow. Putin warned 17 June 2017 that new sanctions by the US Senate against Russia would complicate the relations between the two states, noting that it was too early to talk about retaliatory measures.

On 19 June 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department announced additional sanctions on Russia and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions target 38 Russian and pro-Russian individuals and entities tied to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, including two high-level Russian officials, Deputy Economy Minister Sergey Nazarov and Russian lawmaker Alexander Babakov.

Russian officials reacted to new sanctions unveiled by the U.S. by canceling upcoming talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon. Ryabkov said that the situation is not conducive to holding a round of this dialogue. The US State Department expressed regret at the cancellation of Friday's talks. "We regret that Russia has decided to turn away from an opportunity to discuss bilateral obstacles that hinder U.S.-Russia relations," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The Russian Foreign Ministry suspended the use of all US Embassy warehouses and its compound in Moscow on 28 July 2017 and also ordered the US to cut down the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people by 01 September 2017. Moreover, the ministry said that it reserved the reciprocal right to hit US interests in response to the US sanctions bill. The move appeared to signal the end of Moscows hopes for a new and improved relationship with the US under Donald Trump.

""We are offering [sic] to the US side to bring the numbers of US diplomatic and technical staff working in the US embassy in Moscow, in general consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok to reflect the exact number of Russian diplomats and technical staff who are in the United States."

There were about 300 US diplomats based in Moscow, with about 1,100 staff altogether between the Moscow embassy and three consulates across the country. The Russian move would mean more than 600 employees would have to leave.

US officials ordered Russia to close three diplomatic buildings in the United States, part of the ongoing quarrel between the two countries over US sanctions. The action follows Russia's demand that the US reduce the number of personnel at its diplomatic missions in the country. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to tell him that the United States has fully implemented the decision by the Russian government to reduce the size of the U.S. mission in the country.

In a statement, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert called the Russian decision unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries. Nauert continued, In the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians, we are requiring the Russian government to close its Consulate General in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington, D.C. and consular annex in New York City. She said the closures would need to be completed by 02 September 2017.

The Russian Consulate General in San Francisco is the oldest Russian consulate in the United States. The two annexes ordered closed in Washington and New York were primarily trade missions. No Russian diplomats are being expelled the diplomats in those three building may be reassigned to other Russian consulates in the US.

U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, in leading twenty of their Democratic Senate colleagues 30 January 2018 in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, expressing their concern that six months after Congress overwhelmingly passed mandatory sanctions measures to hold Russia accountable for their destabilizing activities against our country and nations around the world, the Trump Administration has imposed no new sanctions.

President Trump signed the Countering Americas Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) into law in August 2017 after both the House and Senate nearly unanimously passed the legislation. This is unacceptable, the Senators wrote. By imposing no new sanctions under CAATSA mandates, the U.S. remains vulnerable to an emboldened Russian government in advance of this Novembers congressional elections.

January 29, 2018 was a date mandated in the law, Section 231, for the Administration to report to Congress on sanctions designations for foreign countries or their entities who do business with certain Russian defense and intelligence sector elements. The Administration announced there would be no sanctions impositions at this time. While there is deterrent value in Section 231, it is only effective if potential targets believe that the threat of sanctions is genuine. Yesterdays statement by the State Department unfortunately fell short of sending a strong signal that the U.S. is fully prepared to impose these secondary sanctions in the vent of a violation, the Senators said.

On 27 March 2018 the US ordered 60 Russian diplomats accused of being spies to leave the United States within a week. The U.S. move, along with the closure of a Russian consulate in the country, is in response to Moscows to what the State Department called the "outrageous violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and breach of international law," involving the nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain.

The US, multiple European countries, and Australia responded to the poisoning of the Skripals by expelling nearly 150 Russian diplomats. Nearly 30 countries announced they were expelling Russian diplomats "in solidarity" with Britain's stance in the Skripal case. The majority of those countries are members of the European Union. The United States ordered 60 Russian diplomats to leave while some, like Luxembourg, limited themselves to a single person. In all, more than 150 Russian diplomats have been ordered out of the US, EU members, NATO countries and other nations in coordinated action against Moscow. Moscow maintained it had no role in the nerve poison attack on the former intelligence officer and his daughter.

Russia on 29 March 2018 announced the mass expulsion of US diplomats and the closure of the US consulate in Saint Petersburg in retaliation to moves by Western countries to isolate Moscow in the wake of the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.

On April 6, 2018 the U.S. Department of the Treasurys Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in consultation with the Department of State, designated seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank. The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites, said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities. Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their governments destabilizing activities.

Much like Russia, the Trump administration was actively trying to break up the European Union and get separate agreements with individual countries. A central point in Trump's actions and decisions seemed to be the confrontation of the Judeo-Christian and the Islamic world. US cooperation with Russia is a logical option. That the president would look to Russia as a potential partner seems only logical. As Trump can't find allies for his stand-off with the Muslim world in Europe, he is looking for them elsewhere. Russia's official ideology is Christian. Russian-Orthodox, maybe, but America's own Christian religious landscape is diverse enough not to make this too big a problem. Russia has problems with Islamic extremists within its own borders, for example in Chechnya, but also in other federal republics, and enough of it to make countering Islamism a priority for the Russian government. America and Russia are relatively similar in that they prioritise military power over economic measures.

Trump could be aiming for a grand security deal with Russia. Such a deal could include that the U.S. recognises the Russian annexation of Crimea. Russia would in turn drop its support of the separatists in the Donbas and Eastern Ukraine, while it would demand of Ukraine to grant the area some sort of autonomy. In the Middle-East, Russia and the U.S. would work together, essentially led by the U.S. while the latter in turn would recognise Russian allies, such as Bashar al-Assad's Syria. Beyond that, the two powers could then agree on a coordinated approach to dealing with Iran, while the U.S. would get NATO to withdraw its forces from the Russian border.

The United States and European allies imposed economic sanctions against Russia for the takeover of Crimea. Trump had not lifted the sanctions, but at times blamed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for Russia's incursion into its Soviet-era posession. "President Obama lost Crimea, because President Putin didn't respect President Obama," Trump said in June 2018.

Donald Trump said he spent a "great deal of time" addressing Russian interference in the U.S. election during what he called "constructive" talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki 16 July 2018. "During today's meeting I addressed the issue of Russian interference in our elections. I felt this was a message best delivered in person". Putin, in his remarks, said "I had to repeat that the Russian state never interfered, and does not plan to interfere in internal American electoral process."

Trump tweeted: "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!", referring to the current investigation by the special counsel into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The Russian ministry of foreign affairs tweeted its response, saying "We agree."

Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that, President Trump said. I do feel that we have both made some mistakes, Trump said. I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it's kept us apart. It's kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. Trump said He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer.

"I have president Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be," Trump said. So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

On 19 July 2018 Donald Trump wrote "The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media. I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more. There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems... but they can ALL be solved!

The Fake News Media is going Crazy! They make up stories without any backup, sources or proof. Many of the stories written about me, and the good people surrounding me, are total fiction. Problem is, when you complain you just give them more publicity. But Ill complain anyway! The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war. They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that Ill probably have a good relationship with Putin. We are doing MUCH better than any other country!"

The White House announced that Trump had invited Vladimir Putin to visit Washington this fall. As the late afternoon tweet landed, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats was on stage at the Aspen Security Forum in the middle of an interview with NBCs Andrea Mitchell, who broke the news to him. Coats, clearly surprised, took a deep breath. Say that again, he said. Did I hear you? She repeated the news. Okaaaay, Coats said. Thats going to be special.

Trump called Putin's offer at Helsinki to work with US investigators on the inquiry into Russian subversion of the 2016 vote an "incredible offer." In return for helping American investigators question Russian military officers charged with participating in cyber crimes as part of the covert effort, Putin said Russia would want help questioning a dozen American and British nationals.

"So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today," Trump said Monday. "And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer."

Among them are former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor David Kramer, Department of Homeland Security official Todd Hyman, CIA officer Jim Rote, Alexander Schwarzman and Svetlana Angert [all three were investigating Natalia Veselnitskayas Russian client for money laundering in the Magnitsky case], US State Department intelligence official Bob Otto, Magnitski law writer and ex-House Foreign Affairs Committee Kyle Parker and ex- State Department / Senator John Kerry's ex-adviser Jonathan Winer. In addition, Russia wants to talk with British MI6 with Christopher Steele.

Trump reversed course 19 July 2018 after the Senate voted 98 to 0 for a nonbinding resolution opposing any such deal, and after current and former diplomats rallied to the defense of McFaul, saying Trumps move would undermine the bedrock principle of diplomatic immunity.

Trumps week of diplomatic U-turns left many observers scratching their heads, wondering if he had an overall strategy for dealing with the Kremlin. Some attributed his compliance to a personal history of relying on Russian money for many of his business ventures. Others suggested that Trumps obeisance is linked to Russian attempts to swing the 2016 election in his favor. Whatever the reason behind it, Trumps amenable stance on Russia is at odds with the rest of the US establishment, rendering it difficult for the United States to pursue a consistent, coherent policy towards Moscow.

Foreign policy observers noted Trumps acquiescence to the Kremlin was baffling given Russias geostrategic importance. The United States has by far the worlds strongest military and the largest GDP, while Russia did not even crack the worlds top 10 economies, according to the World Bank. And yet Trump appeared keen to grant Moscow international footing equal to that of Washington. Russia's GDP is smaller than that of either Brazil, Italy or Canada. So for all its nuclear bluster and fatiguing trouble-making along its perimeter, Russia is basically a stagnant, over-sized middle power.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and former California governor, called the Helkinki press conference given by Trump and Putin "embarrassing." The 'Governator' said "You stood there like a little wet noodle, like a little fan boy," . "I was asking myself when you are going to ask him for an autograph or a selfie or something like that." Schwarzenegger accused Trump of "selling out" the intelligence community, the justice system, and the nation in general, apparently referring to the US President's denial of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in the US. Schwarzenegger went on to ask what happened to the Cold War-era "strong words and strength" of former President Ronald Reagan. "What happened to all that?" Schwarzenegger sighed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin presented his US counterpart Donald Trump at the 16 July 2018 summit in Helsinki with a number of particular initiatives on arms control, including prohibiting weapons in space. The Russian document with the header "Dialogue on the Issue of Arms Control" proposes "a five-year extension for the so-called New START Treaty limiting nuclear arms." The memo also addressed mounting tensions in Eastern Europe, suggesting that Washington and Moscow should "take measures in order to prevent incidents while conducting military activities in Europe, as well as to increase trust and transparency in the military sphere." The document called on the two sides to "initiate expert consultations to identify destabilizing kinds of arms, to take them into account in the arms control mechanism." The "strategic stability" consultations should be led by deputy secretary of state and deputy minister of foreign affairs.

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US Policy Toward Africa: Eight Decades of Realpolitik - Herman J Cohen's Latest Book
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