Trump And Putin: What Comes Next?

Authored by Nikolas Gvosdev via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Will a future, formal Trump-Putin summit be a game changer?

Last week, I noted that any encounter between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin that would take place at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, would have to address two critical questions if there was to be any clarity in U.S.-Russia relations.

We’ve now gotten a first draft of answers.

I argued that, for the Russian side, the overarching issue is whether or not Donald Trump is calling the shots on U.S. policy. Seven days ago, the White House press operation was signaling that there would be a formal encounter between the two presidents, a scheduled meeting with a defined agenda. As the week progressed, the United States began to back away from those announcements. By the end of the week, the encounter was a far less structured event, essentially folded in around an informal stroll to a photo opportunity and brief chats in between APEC sessions - nothing at all like the meeting that took place at the G-20 summit in Hamburg in July. What happened? And does it suggest that Donald Trump has a George W. Bush problem - the apparent inability to take a personal rapport with Vladimir Putin and transform it into concrete policy directives?

As the APEC summit drew nearer, it became clear that the Russian president would not bring any agenda to Vietnam that suggested a willingness to reverse course or offer major concessions to U.S. preferences regarding Russian policy on North Korea, Syria, Iran and Ukraine. At best, the Russian leader might seek to bargain with President Trump, seeking concessions from Washington in some areas in return for Russian acquiescence to American proposals in others. There are, of course, two major items being prepared for the president’s review and approval. First is the application of U.S. sanctions, authorized by congressional legislation, both against Russian companies and against third parties that do business with them. Here, a critical test is pending within weeks, should the Italian energy conglomerate ENI go ahead with a joint project with Rosneft in the Black Sea—a deal grandfathered in under European regulations, but one that will certainly draw the attention of U.S. regulators for any violations of U.S. financial or technological sanctions. The second is the final decision on whether or not the United States will provide advanced weaponry, especially antitank missiles, to the Ukrainian military.

Because of the way the United States geographically boxes Russia in as only a “European” state, Trump’s “Russia hands” were not scheduled to join his delegation to APEC. Thus, there were concerns that any substantive meeting between Trump and Putin would occur without the U.S. officials who would be most likely to provide necessary expertise (and who would wind up implementing any results). Linked to that were fears that, if another meeting followed the Hamburg precedent (of just the two presidents and their chief diplomatic officers), Putin might convince Trump to accept a series of compromises: trading Russian support of Trump’s initiatives in return, for instance, for concrete sanctions relief and acceptance of Russian preferences for Syria and Ukraine. There had already been some advance warning of this, such as, when Saudi Arabia’s King Salman visited Moscow last month in an historic summit, the Saudi delegation seemed to suggest that a Russia playing a more constructive and stabilizing role in the Middle East would outweigh the logic of maintaining the full raft of U.S. sanction, imposed after the 2014 incursions into Ukraine and after the 2016 elections.

Keeping the tenor of the encounters between the two presidents at Da Nang informal precluded the chance of any intense bargaining sessions on the sidelines. But for the Russian side, it also raises questions - of whether Trump is in fact inclined to bargain with the Kremlin, or whether he has the clout to carry through any agreement in the face of stiff domestic opposition, not only from his own national-security team, but from Congress, where opposition to any concessions to Vladimir Putin is one of the few genuine bipartisan issues left. There is no support (even from his own appointees) for any compromise with Moscow that leaves Bashar al-Assad in power in Damascus, or that ratifies any of the gains Russia has made in Ukraine since 2014 - not when there is still a sense that strong, concerted U.S. action could lead to different outcomes. Indeed, with the European Commission recognizing that Russian plans to bypass Ukraine by 2019 are moving ahead, even despite existing sanctions, new efforts are underway to find ways to block the expansion of the Nord Stream line and forestall the expansion of the Turkish Stream export route to Europe. There is confidence that expanded sanctions, plus a renewed commitment to the Syrian opposition, could change Russia’s calculations—and therefore there is no reason to prematurely concede anything to the Kremlin.

But then we have Trump’s comments to the press following the Da Nang summit. Much of that coverage has focused on Trump’s willingness to accept Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election at face value, but two other items deserve greater attention.

The first is that the president, having been convinced, guided, or maneuvered into not having a formal sit-down with Putin in Vietnam, is apparently committing to a full-fledged summit meeting of the two presidents and their respective “teams” at some indefinite point in the future. If so, then how the agenda for that meeting is set, and what parameters are established for the negotiations, will be critical.


The second is what role Trump himself intends to play in Russia policy. What struck me at times about his comments on Air Force One was how he seemed to view himself, as “the president,” as something separate and distinct from the executive branch as a whole. As chief executive, Trump is in charge of the U.S. intelligence community, the diplomatic corps and the military. Yet his comments seem to suggest that, at times, the government is pursuing a policy towards Russia that he personally disagrees with but somehow has little power to change.

So while we’ve gotten a first set of answers, the questions still remain unresolved. Sideline encounters at the G-20 and at APEC were not successful in changing the dynamic of the U.S.-Russia relationship. So will a direct Trump-Putin summit be a game changer? Only if those original questions can be answered definitively.


Escrava Isaura Manthong Thu, 11/16/2017 - 05:45 Permalink

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Trump And Putin: What Comes Next? Who knows? Trump is too unpredictable and his statements are too inconsistent. Secondly, Trump doesn’t know how to run government. And his approach is not suitable because creates confusion. Third, his business ‘brand’ is all over the world. Didn’t Trump just get 38 patents/trademarks in China? My guess is that Trump won’t get much done at all as President. Hope I am wrong. Time will tell.                

In reply to by Manthong

HardAssets Laughing.Man Thu, 11/16/2017 - 08:46 Permalink

I wonder if US actions across the negotiation table make much difference. Syria and Ukraine have been decided on the battlefield. Russia and China are moving forward to expand their trade opportunities. All the U.S. can do is expend resources and lives trying to hold back the inevitable multi polar world, like the Brit attempts to hold together their already lost empire.

In reply to by Laughing.Man

Pliskin Thu, 11/16/2017 - 05:10 Permalink

I think Mr. Trump started off with great intentions; good relations with Russia, MAGA, trade oriented government, less immigration, jail the corrupt traitors in the .gov and former .govs.....but along the way, he's been spooked, not bought off, spooked!"This is how it's going to be, Mr. President-in-name-only, you do as we tell you, or you and your family will be hung out to dry."  

new game Pliskin Thu, 11/16/2017 - 05:34 Permalink

believing otherwise would be foolish. trump values life.simple shit maynard, ssmsee, day to day, we just don't run accross these evil type of people. ocasionally with my delivery business, i see these sketch fuks. bad fuking people come in all income strata. o'fuk went thru the same learning curve, but his was very short due to his lifelong experience as a dick sucker.

In reply to by Pliskin

Singelguy Pliskin Thu, 11/16/2017 - 07:40 Permalink

I disagree. The swamp in Washington is so large and so deep that there was no way Trump could take it on directly and win. He is using guerrilla war tactics and taking it on one piece at a time, starting with cutting off the funding. I find it interesting that a large number of the people arrested in Saudi Arabia were US establishment supporters. I think that is no coincidence. Steve Bannon said recently that it will take 10 to 15 years to drain the swamp. Trump is just the beginning.

In reply to by Pliskin

MEFOBILLS Singelguy Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:32 Permalink

The swamp has been built over decades, and it won't go away overnight.  Trump has to chip away at it slowly, especially since he doesn't have a movement or an army behind him.  Below link is Robert Steele explaining that deep state, especially the Satanic pedophiles, are toast.  A counter coup is in progress.  I've mentioned this a few times here at ZH: there is a patriotic element in America that want's to see it preserved.  Parts of the military know that the long supply chain dependent on Chinese and foreign manufacturing is a fatal weakness.  In other words, neo-con ((finance capitalism)) has delivered U.S. into a fatal position, so Trump presidency is to walk it back. Parts of the military, especially the Air Force middle ranking officers, learned to trust Russians while in Syria.  It is looking more like it is elements of Marines, U.S. Air force, and probably some folks at NSA who are supporting Trump in the counter-coup.

In reply to by Singelguy

HardAssets Pliskin Thu, 11/16/2017 - 08:52 Permalink

It doesn’t even have to be that kind of personal threat. “This is the way things work Mr President. If the swamp is drained, there will be a complete loss of confidence in government, the dollar, and America. The whole country will come apart. There will be violence & economic devastation and millions would die in the turmoil. All we can hope to do is hold this thing together.”

In reply to by Pliskin

MEFOBILLS BritBob Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:44 Permalink When the Jews of Amersterdaaaamn jumped to England and formed BOE, the "brain" of England became infected with a parasite. Debt spreading banking and predatory corportism spread from London to infect the world.  State Sanctioned Usury became the operating condition of mankind.  The Parasite is now also lodged in Wall Street._______________ The more greatly Europe was impoverished;  the more did England's wealth increase.  Therefore has England stirred up wars innumerable, in which she has herself taken practically no part, in order to ruin Europe economically, morally, and politically.  Therefore has she always sought to prevent by all means the rise of any prosperous European State capable of competing with her in the markets of the world.  She knew that, as long as she ruled the seas, Europe was helpless, and that the monopoly of the overaea trade belonged to her.  Therefore did it become a fundamental principle of hers to destroy mercilessly the sea power of every nation, as soon as this sea power showed signs of growing to an extent such that England's "maritime supremacy" would be threatened.Founded on piracy, the British Empire has been built up at the expense of humanity.  The English commenced by robbing the Spanish treasure-ships — acts of murderous and dastardly brigandage which are held up to Englishmen to-day as deeds of prowess.  They continued by robbing Canada and the States from the French, Gibraltar from the Spaniards, India from the French and the Portuguese, South Africa from the Dutch, Egypt and Cyprus from the Turks, Malta from the Italians — and last, but not least, Ireland from the Irish.  Over the whole world we can follow the trail of the venomous serpent, which has fastened its deadly fangs into so many victims.  Over the whole world we hear the cry for vengeance and for redemption.The great merit of Count Reventlow's work is that of showing us the history of Europe in its true light.  Pitilessly has the historian here torn to shreds the garment of hypocrisy in which the English seek to clothe themselves;  spurred on by the sole desire of impartiality searching for the truth, he has rent asunder the veil which they have thrown over the real history of the world with a cleverness equalled only by their unscrupulousness.  England is here exposed to the reader in all her hideous nakedness, with not even a rag to cover her sores;  in the cold, unshaded light of facts she appears before our eyes — no longer as the "Liberator," but as the Vampire saturated with the blood of its victims, as the Shylock gorged with ill-gotten wealth, as the Parasite grown fat on the marrow of the bones of all the peoples of the earth.

In reply to by BritBob

Blue Steel 309 Thu, 11/16/2017 - 05:53 Permalink

Putin has an alliance with Eastern joowry. Donald Trump is the slave of the Eastern jewry. They cant reach an agreement, because they are not equals. If Putin could, I am sure he would gas the kykes.

Bopper09 Thu, 11/16/2017 - 07:06 Permalink

He still has 3 yrs, or more than likely 7 since the dems simply cannot understand the level of delusional retard they've become.  It's going to take the next round of senate votes to help him out.  Moore would be a good start.  It'd be nice to see mcconnel and ryan out by next year as well.  I don't like that the military is still in the middle east, but let's not forget where we'd be at with a full functioning TPP right now.  That, and he severely reduced gov't spending on crap like EPA.  And with a new regulation getting rid of 2 others, the 'no lobbying for 5 yrs' (although no lobbying period, would be better).  He's done more for the people in 1 year than anyone in the last 20, so let's vote in some people that will give him some support.  Keep in mind, he's been dealing with a group of people that are trying to impeach him the entire time.Trump's the head of the brush, that's going to take a decade or more to clean the shit off the side of the toilet. 

Deep Snorkeler Thu, 11/16/2017 - 08:24 Permalink

Putin: "We have infected your mind with Crippleware."Trump: "Whaaat?"Putin: "America's intellect has been ground down to simpleton level."Trump: "D'Oh!"Putin: "Christo-Trumpism is failing."Putin: "When you were elected, suddenly I could not keep a straight face in social situations."Putin: "If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn."Trump: "So you don't play golf, what a shame."

sister tika Thu, 11/16/2017 - 07:23 Permalink

Putin can't and won't give up on The Donald. He knows DC is infested with Zionist swill that are (desperately) trying to undermine everything that Trump does. HE KNOWS.

arby63 Thu, 11/16/2017 - 07:28 Permalink

Mr. Trump has full intentions of repairing our relationship with Russia. He's just got a lot of shit to fight through in the process. The swamp is very much alive.

bh2 Thu, 11/16/2017 - 07:36 Permalink

"Trump is in charge of the U.S. intelligence community, the diplomatic corps and the military."Nonsense.The Departments of State and Defense have long been independent sovereign powers and the intellignece community plainly answers to no one.