The publication of the new U.S. national security strategy, in which Russia was named one of the main threats to the U.S., and the decision to supply Kiev with lethal weapons, might make this the moment for Russian fans of Donald Trump to say farewell to any last illusions about the 45th president of the United States and his ability to pull Russian-American relations out of a tailspin.
There is no denying it: Both the anti-Russian Congress and the nominally “pro-Russian” head of the White House, who has not expressed any will or desire to change things, are responsible for the critical amount of negativity that has accumulated over the last few months in Moscow-Washington relations. All of this makes Trump the main disappointment of the year.
A story about the forced meeting of the U.S. and Russian presidents at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang in November is the most vivid example of how relations between Russia and the U.S. currently look, what kind of feel they have and how unbalanced the decision-making system is. When Vladimir Putin and Trump either met or not (the question is what can be considered without a stretch as a "meeting"*), both blamed others: The teams of the two leaders seemed to be unable to match their work schedules. Although when two leaders have something to say to each other, they will always find the time and opportunity to do so. Their teams are not the problem here; there simply was no mutual movement toward each other. There was nothing to talk about.
During his first year in office, Trump held dozens of meetings in the White House and visited various regions of the world. But full-fledged, top-level, Russian-American negotiations never appeared on the horizon. Moreover, no one in Moscow or Washington today will say how many months or years will pass before new top-level negotiations with a full-fledged agenda and a package of agreements will take place, whether it will be during the Trump era or after his departure.
Never before have relations between Moscow and Washington been at such a low level since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the proclamation of an independent Russian state. However, for Moscow, which believed in Trump, this is quite possibly just the beginning and the worst is yet to come, because Trump's main battle with his opponents, who continue to stubbornly look for the "Russian Trace" in his election as president, is on its way.
There is no room for doubt that Trump, without hesitation, will surrender his relations with Russia to his opponents if it is required for his political survival.
Although let's be honest, what is left of these relations? What does he need them for? He understands their toxicity, and he is clearly not ready to fight for them.
A year on, the legacy of Barack Obama, who was so unloved by us, against the background of the reign of Trump looks almost like the "Golden Age" of Russian-American relations, when there were not only sanctions but also a reset. When there were new agreements on arms reduction, not a dismantling of them, as is happening today. There were efforts to uphold these agreements, overcoming the resistance of the same anti-Russian Congress.
Moscow was again faced with disappointment after deciding that the main thing is to find “your guy” in the White House, whose speeches are like music to your ears and then all the problems will magically disappear. The speeches turned out to be meaningless; no actions followed the words. As a result, there is one big mess that the Russian-American relations got into, and this mess is called Trump.
*Translator's Note: According to the Chicago Tribune, the White House said President Trump did not have a formal sit-down with Russian President Putin while the two attended a summit. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders blamed scheduling conflicts on both sides for the fact that the leaders would not meet formally during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit taking place in the coastal city of Da Nang.