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On June 28-29, the G20 Summit will be held in Osaka, Japan, to which both Russian and American leaders are invited.
In this regard, as well as on the eve of previous meetings of competing presidents, the Russian media are full of predictions about the negotiation agenda, a stronger negotiating position of the Kremlin, as well as Trump’s almost hopeless situation, which will have to make concessions to Putin.
Traditionally, Russian forecasts are that a full reversal of world politics will occur, Trump-Putin pact will be concluded, Ukraine will become a bargaining chip for solving more global world problems, Kiev should prepare for the United States to surrender its interests, stop assistance from the West, and recognize Crimea as Russian etc.
According to pro-Moscow editions, in 2017, Trump was ready to change Ukraine to Syria, and in 2018 to Iran. And finally, this year the President of the United States can exchange it for Venezuela.
In other words, the Kremlin is actively asking for a meeting in the highest format, while trying to form one of the main agenda items: Putin will promise not to interfere with Trump in the establishment of democracy in the Bolivarian Republic and the overthrow of the Maduro regime in exchange for getting full freedom of action in Ukraine.
Ukraine is important for Russia for several reasons. The main ones include sanctions pressure, which is causing the economy to stagnate, as well as the slippage of Moscow’s Eurasian projects, which draws a whole list of derivatives – from the inability to crush all neighbors to the image losses of the “land collector”.
Indeed, at the moment the Ukrainian question for the West and Russia is in a state of geopolitical draw and its solution can be moved by serious concessions by one of the parties.
To date, the list of issues for discussion between the White House and the Kremlin is quite wide:
- The situation in Venezuela, namely, the support provided by the Russian side to President Maduro. Trump personally expressed that does not exclude this issue.
- Nuclear disarmament of the DPRK. Trump is trying to do it through diplomacy. And the recent meeting in Vladivostok with Kim Jong-unn Putin made it clear that this issue would not be resolved without Russia’s participation.
- Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran’s growing influence in the region.
- The Afghan question – coercion to peace of the Afghan Taliban.
- Extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3) after 2021.
- European energy security issues. In the interpretation of Washington – reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.
- Aggressive expansion of Russia in the Arctic, the creation of a network of military bases.
- The Russian-Ukrainian conflict, including the need for Russia to free Ukrainian sailors and ships, which the Trump administration has aroused interest in in connection with the presidential elections of the 20th year and the so-called Biden affair.
Of course, this is too long a list and it’s just not possible to discuss it all. Most likely many of these issues will remain at the level of heads of diplomatic departments.
So will there be a global exchange?
There were two full-format conversations between the leaders of the United States and the Russian Federation – in July 2018 during the Russian-American summit in Helsinki and in 2017 in Hamburg on, again, the G20 fields.
There were more rip-off meetings: in December 2018 as part of the G20 forum in Argentina, in November 2018 in Paris at the celebrations dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, and in November 2017 in Vietnam at the APEC summit.
Since it was the American side that canceled the last scheduled meeting in Argentina due to the seizure of Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, according to diplomatic norms, Washington should now initiate bilateral negotiations.
Despite the May 3 telephone conversation between Trump and Putin and the talks between Secretary of State Pompeo and Putin and Lavrov on May 14 in Sochi, there is still no official request from the White House.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs speaks about this almost every day, giving Washington to understand that it is time to hurry.
After the completion of the investigation, Special Prosecutor Muller and the lack of evidence of Trump’s collusion with Putin for the White House opened up the opportunity to continue the dialogue with Russia.
But Washington is not in a hurry.
It can be assumed that a full-length, hours-long conversation will not take place at all, but there will be a backstage meeting “on foot”.
This is supported by the lack of progress on any agenda item. Over the past years, dialogues both at the level of Trump-Putin and Pompeo-Lavrov have only established “the existence of fundamental differences”.
In addition, there is a fairly large lobby in the United States in general against any negotiations at the highest level with Russia. A year ago, The Washington Post actively wrote about this, both before and after the US-Russian summit in Helsinki.
But even if a thorough conversation takes place, the American president will have to take into account many constraints.
First, the biased and extremely negative attitude of both the American and world media to the very fact of a possible Trump-Putin meeting. The results of the negotiations a year ago in Helsinki were described as “сynical betrayal of US democracy” and failures for Trump’s image. Yes, and a telephone conversation on May 3 of this year, the head of the White House with the Russian president, many politicians and the media called “betrayal.”
The “stone-lifted” ex-Secretary of State Tillerson, who was dismissed by the President of the United States last year, has already poured oil on the fire. On May 23, he told members of the foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives that Russian President Putin prepared for the upcoming talks better than the American leader for their first meeting. The former head of the diplomatic department meant Trump’s blunders when answering a RIA Novosti question regarding the upcoming INF Treaty, the US president said: “I have no idea what to say.”
Secondly, since Trump decided to run for a second term in 2020, he is forced to act cautiously in view of the start of the election campaign and the anti-Russian focus of the US Congress. In this case, we will have to take into account the mood in American society and the perception of the Russian Federation directly by the Americans.
Thirdly, Venezuela, the White House administration is really paying special attention. At the end of March this year. After sending Russian troops to Venezuela, the White House special envoy for Venezuela E. Abrams threatened Russia with sanctions, and Trump’s national security adviser D. Bolton called military assistance to the Bolivarian Republic “a direct threat to international peace and security in the region.” Trump himself said that “Russia must leave” from Venezuela.
If Venezuela is so important that Ukraine is regarded as a concession, then we must take into account that the situation in this country is already shifting. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Russia began to withdraw part of its military advisers from Venezuela (from one thousand to several dozen people), which is due to the lack of new contracts and the lack of money for the Maduro regime to pay for Rostec services.
About this the other day, but briefly, Trump himself wrote in his Twitter.
Fourthly, the selfishness of the American president. The Washington Post rightly argues that the president is obsessed with the idea of domination and demonization of his coolness. He was very sensitive to the proposal to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in case of success in disarming North Korea. However, the surrender of the interests of the United States in other areas will destroy not only the premium, but also the second cadence.
Fifth, Trump’s excessive independence in the international arena and readiness to drift towards Russia from the first months of his presidency has been harshly criticized and even led to a split in the Republican Party. The results of the investigation by Special Prosecutor Muller, although they did not prove collusion with Putin, showed Moscow’s interference in the elections in the United States. Only this fact does not give a reason for “forgiveness”. In the West, top managers implement the country’s strategy, this is determined in Russia. It seems that this lesson has already been learned – in a recent interview with Fox News, the US President said that he was pursuing a tough policy towards Russia and suggested that it would be easier for Putin to do this with Clinton.
Here you can add the draft law “On the provision of support to Ukraine for the protection of its territorial integrity” submitted to the House of Representatives of the US Congress, which generally excludes any maneuvers of the Oval Office in this area.
In other words, Trump was made clear that the United States and their interests are not a beauty contest or a construction company that can be bankrupt twice and remain a billionaire.
Thus, the promise inflated by the Russian media about global exchange and the near end of “independence” is a bubble.
And the task of soap bubbles is to burst, thereby to amuse the awake and wake the dormant.