Wednesday, 26 July 2017

LN: Pressure makes Trump get rid of Russia's promoter label

ČTK |
10 April 2017

Prague, April 8 (CTK) - Friday's U.S. attack on a Syrian air base went against the interests of Russia, confirming a trend that has been obvious for several weeks now, and reflecting Donald Trump's need to get rid of the label of a leader following Russia's interests, Jan Machacek writes in Lidove noviny (LN) today.

Russia's effort to make the U.S. approach more accommodating to it has failed, Machacek writes.

The failure is not linked to Syria only. People like former security adviser Michael Flynn and election manager Paul Manafort have left the team of Trump in the meantime. Steve Bannon, a strategic adviser dreaming about an alliance of western conservatives with Russia, has just been removed from the National Security Council, Machacek writes.

Not even after the strike Washington made in response to a chemical attack on a Syrian town controlled by rebels, critics' comments demonising Trump as a Russian agent can be expected to subside completely, Machacek continues, and presents what he calls a brief review of U.S.-Russian relations.

In 2005, Russia still supported the U.S. operations in Afghanistan and let its base in Kyrgyzstan to the Americans. The USA used the Russian rail routes and airspace.

In 2002, George Bush praised Vladimir Putin in Moscow because he needed the Kremlin's support for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. In the period of bilateral relations "reset" under Barack Obama, the USA still needed to use a military base in Ulyanovsk, Russia, Machacek writes.

Trump's people are being investigated over their "contacts with a foreign big power," but U.S. presidents visited Russia 14 times between 2004 and 2013, Machacek writes.

The U.S.-Russian relations and their swings in the past two decades deserve a kind of an audit, Machacek says.

Of course, there are some key differences. Trump has never said any single negative word about Putin. In addition, Trump's advisers had too frequent meetings with Russian diplomats and some let themselves paid by Russian companies, which is rather unusual, Machacek writes.

The advisers lied about their practice, doing so even after the Russian annexation of Crimea, aggression in the east of Ukraine, the intervention in Syria etc., Machacek writes.

Whatever the original Trump-Russia relations, the pressure exerted by the Congress, experts and media has clearly wrung out a change, Machacek writes.

Last week, Putin's spokesman said the current state of U.S.-Russia relations was the worst possible. If wanting to depict them now, following Washington's Friday attack in Syria, he would call them even worse, Machacek writes.

A great change is underway. Recently, Trump still branded NATO obsolete and indicated that the USA might accept the annexation of Crimea. Bannon hoped in the emergence of a West-Russia alliance against secularism and Islam, Machacek writes.

However, the Russia-friendly Trump Administration has changed into hawks in the past few weeks, he says.

Russian media now speak about an end of illusions and brand Trump a Narcissus. Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said, still before the U.S. strike in Syria, that the present sanctions will be endless, Machacek continues.

A change did not occur on the part of the USA only. After Trump's inauguration, Russia escalated violence in eastern Ukraine and installed banned cruise missiles. Russian pilots have been obviously "testing" the U.S. ships in the Black Sea, Machacek writes.

Pressure on Trump has been exerted by the Republican hawks as well as the Democrats annoyed by Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential race. In addition, there is a number of experts called the intelligence community and the national security establishment. Finally, Trump had to recognise that Russia did try to influence the U.S. election, Machacek writes.

Citing the Atlantic Council's Adrian Karatnycky, he writes that experts are so united in their view on Putin that Trump would be unable to put together a Russia-friendly national security team even if he wanted to. Even if he tried it, the Congress would block the step, Machacek writes.

Trump's pressure for Washington's European allies to raise their defence spending must have displeased Putin. Brexit does not make London potentially more friendly towards Moscow. The two favourite candidates for German chancellor are critical of Putin, and the favourite in the French presidential polls is Emmanuel Macron, whose election prospects are much better than those of his two pro-Russian rivals among the candidates, Machacek writes.

He says the situation culminated with Trump recently tweeting "For eight years Russia 'ran over' President Obama, got stronger and stronger, picked-off Crimea and added missiles. Weak!"

If the world seemed upside down two months ago, now it much more resembles to what was known in the past two decades, including a U.S. air strike angering Russia, Machacek concludes.

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