An Out-Of-Place Meeting: Trump’s Return to Russia

Donald Trump is set apart from his predecessor by a catastrophic lack of elegance. Yesterday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov reproached Barack Obama for providing U.S.-Russia relations with some irritants. The reproach is more than fair, yet it must be understood that in the actions of the previous U.S. administration, there weren’t any abrupt jerks, failures, or, conversely, any head-spinning upswings.

From the reset, which was never destined to please us or the Americans with any significant achievements, to sanctions and an economy supposedly “in tatters,” everything went on a steady downward slope; Obama “slowly and lamentably,”* step by step, kept imposing new restrictions, turning up the degree of anti-Russian discourse by several notches at every stage. If we step back for a moment from the essence of his policy toward Russia, we can probably say it wasn’t without a certain gracefulness, a gracefulness that manifested itself in relentlessness as well as in doses of hostile and siege actions by the administration.

It’s not so with Trump, who, in my opinion, quite deliberately gives ever more arguments to those who consider him a hardcore redneck. Acting like a bull in a china shop, he intentionally clears the space around him in such a way that each subsequent step, however preposterous and poorly thought out, is perceived as an unchangeable attribute of his nature.

The authors of an article in the Washington Post complained that America’s never had such an unusual president. These words sound not only like bitter regret but also like an affirmation and hence an acknowledgement of the unavoidability that Trump simply can’t help but screw things up.

By meeting with Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the White House, the American president screwed things up so much that it’s hard to imagine how he even managed it. Less than a day before his high-ranking Russian guest’s visit, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. It wouldn’t have been a big deal, since such firings are within the president’s authority, but in this case, the U.S. leader, in the opinion of his liberal opponents, conducted himself extremely inappropriately. The fact of the matter is that Comey was investigating ties between people from Trump’s circle and Russian officials during the election campaign. For several months now, the liberal American media has been pointing the finger at the head of state for being helped in his election win by hackers from Russia who hacked into a server at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters.

Accordingly, political correctness and tolerance required Trump to wait for the results of the investigation. Before that he had no right to dismiss Comey, since in consideration of the unfinished proceedings it looks like a carnal reprisal against someone fighting for the truth.

But to the president, it apparently seemed the firing wasn’t enough. So that no one would have any doubts about his motives, the American leader received Sergey Kislyak, a central figure in the investigation being conducted by the FBI, in the Oval Office, together with Lavrov. Liberal American publications are burning with righteous indignation, calling the meeting out-of-place and ill-timed. They’re also pointing to two outrageous circumstances. After Lavrov, Trump held consultations with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, considered by many a statesman who represents Russia’s interests at the establishment level. Moreover, American journalists weren’t allowed in the meeting with Lavrov. Only the Russian state news agency, TASS, whose correspondent was the only person allowed to take photos, published a shoot.

I would add to this a further detail. After Lavrov, Trump met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, which may be interpreted as a reminder to the Ukrainian official that he is decidedly in second place. It’s easy to imagine that in a similar situation, Barack Obama would have had the persons involved switch places.

Thus, it would seem that the U.S. president, who all but provoked a complete rupture in relations with Moscow by shelling a Syrian military base, is making a U-turn that delights with its lack of reasonableness and is beginning to pull in the opposite direction, whipping the American liberal public into a total frenzy. It began with a call to Vladimir Putin in Sochi. The fact that Trump got in touch with Putin following the latter’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel should sort of reinforce the impression that Russia is rapidly emerging from political isolation.

At the meeting with Lavrov, they discussed a meeting between the two presidents on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, which will be held July 7-8. We’re not talking simply about a warming of relations but rather an impetuous sprint into Russia’s embrace by the American leader before the eyes of an indignant liberal elite.

I have no doubt that practical results won’t be long in coming. Trump, finally feeling the earth beneath his feet, is returning to his beloved idea, one he devoted part of his election campaign to—the idea that relations with Russia should be improved. It’s very logical in the context of his political program, which is aimed above all at solving U.S. domestic problems. It follows that America, on the one hand, can’t afford costly and pointless actions to try to blockade Russia. Obama, who once spoke to the effects of the sanctions by saying Russia’s economy was “in tatters,” was at the very least seriously mistaken.

On the other hand, having reached an agreement with Moscow, the U.S. administration will be able to far more efficiently solve and settle the problems now weighing the U.S. down, like so much useless cargo. The issues having to do with the necessity of blocking off international terrorism are far from made-up. It’s a serious and extremely important topic. Today, all sides—both the West as a whole and Russia—are truly interested in making the situation on the planet safer. Russian-American cooperation, as opposed to hostility, is capable of performing miracles in terms of the effectiveness of efforts aimed at combating terrorism.

It seems Trump understands this. And he doesn’t deny himself the pleasure of demonstrating this understanding in the most brazen way possible.

*Editor’s note: While translated correctly, this quote could not be verified.

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About Jeffrey Fredrich 199 Articles
Jeffrey studied Russian language at Northwestern University and at the Russian State University for the Humanities. He spent one year in Moscow doing independent research as a Fulbright fellow from 2007 to 2008.

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