By Rahul Gupta
There’s evident trouble in US-Russia, largest since the end of the cold war, mainly due to Russia’s intervention in “Crimea.” Alleged interference in the US election and actions in Aleppo have created a strong slippage of trust between the two powerful countries.
In-depth detail of the call
President Trump’s phone-call to Vladimir Putin on the 29th of January, 2017 is a seemingly appreciable departure from Washington’s frosty approach to Russia under the Obama administration.
Although their knowledge about each other was based purely on publicly surfaced information rather than any plausible communion, the call acknowledged Trump’s admiration of Putin’s leadership in the past. Rex Tillerson, President Trump’s choice for Secretary Of State is also alleged to have a close relationship with the Kremlin.Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington | Picture Courtesy – Andrew Harnik
The phone conversation by Russian accounts warrants closer Russia-US ties with subjects like Iran’s nuclear policy, the Israel – Palestine conflict, the unstable Korean Peninsula and co-operation in Crimea. Such co-operation would represent a shift in US policy on Crimea that has till date antagonized Moscow and imposed punitive sanctions. The leaders undertook detailed accounts of Syria and admitted the need for partnership to fight ISIS. Although the Russians made their stance clear on backing the Assad-regime, the US may find itself on the side of regime responsible for the atrocities in Aleppo.
Foreign policy challenges to be expected
Speaking alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump stated that it is too soon to initiate talks about lifting sanctions from Russia. He however claimed that elimination of sanctions imposed would be a surprisingly positive act. Backing Trump, PM May stated that Russia will be obliged to comply with established sanctions till it honors the Minsk Agreement pressing for demilitarization and immediate cease fire, substantiating the assertion with wide agreement within Europe.
This dichotomy represents one of the key divides between US – Europe relations. The latter has been manifestly assertive about wanting to continue punitive sanctions on Russia in light of Russia’s expansionist tendencies deepening pressure on European countries that share proximity with Russia. Moreover, Europe has been increasingly worried about NATO’s ability to reign in Russia in light of Trump calling the alliance “obsolete”.
[su_pullquote]Trump’s phone conversation with Putin warrants closer Russia-US ties, however it could shake up Europe’s stance on US support altogether.[/su_pullquote]
Trump’s warming to Russia and simultaneous support to Europe has kept people in confusion. The termination of sanctions would leave Europe uncertain of US support. Whereas the continuation of sanctions would be a threshold impediment to US – Russia ties. The only light of hope remains to be a degree of realpolitik that could persuade all forces to focus on mutual grounds. Though in the absence of a clear and coherent US policy, the chances of relations normalizing seem remote.
Featured Image Source – Slate
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