Trump’s Shift on Russia Brings Geopolitical Whiplash

2017-04-15 10:03:28 by RoOz
News Media Washington Capitals 

Trump’s Shift on Russia Brings Geopolitical Whiplash The New York Times 8 hrs ago By PETER BAKER © PAVEL GOLOVKIN/AFP/Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to his Uzbek counterpart during their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 5, 2017. WASHINGTON — A week ago, President Trump was accused of being a tool for the Russians, an unwitting agent of influence, so full of admiration that he defended President Vladimir V. Putin against critics who called him a killer. Now, Mr. Trump is in a diplomatic clash with Mr. Putin’s Russia , his administration accusing Moscow of trying to cover up a Syrian chemical weapons attack on civilians and delivering us-or-them ultimatums. Even in a presidency marked by unpredictability, the head-spinning shift from coziness to confrontation has left Washington and other capitals with a case of geopolitical whiplash. The prospects of improving Russian-American relations were already slim given the atmosphere of suspicion stemming from Kremlin meddling in last year’s election, but the détente once envisioned by Mr. Trump has instead deteriorated into the latest cold war. Sign Up For the Morning Briefing Newsletter For Mr. Trump’s camp, the abrupt turnaround simply proved how false the conspiracy narrative was from the start. “If there was anything that Syria did, it was to validate the fact that there is no Russia tie,” said Eric Trump, the president’s son. For some critics, it seemed to be a cynical way of distracting attention from the multiple investigations into possible contacts between associates of Mr. Trump and Russia even as Moscow was trying to help Mr. Trump win the presidency. Either way, it suggested that the relationship between the two powers could be volatile in the months to come, subject to the impulsive reactions of a president with no prior experience in foreign policy, the often strident responses of a Russian leader given to his own moments of pique and the clashing national interests of both countries in key areas around the world. “I was skeptical from the beginning that it would be possible for the United States and Russia, after all that happened in the last few years, to engage in a successful reset,” said Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia now at Georgetown University. “What’s surprising is how quickly we returned to the status quo ante we had at the end of the Obama administration.” Mr. Trump is the fourth president in a row who came into office determined to reboot the relationship with Moscow, an ambition that often eluded the other three. The difference is that the hacking of Democratic email during last year’s election, for which intelligence agencies blamed Russia, made Mr. Trump’s embrace of Mr. Putin politically problematic. His willingness to overlook Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its armed intervention in eastern Ukraine and, until now, its support for President Bashar al-Assad ’s government in Syria mystified many experts. He called Mr. Putin “a stronger leader” than President Barack Obama , praised him for “doing a great job” and expressed hope that he would be “my new best friend.” Michael Morrell, a former acting C.I.A. director, wrote last fall that Mr. Trump seemed to be an “unwitting agent of influence” for Moscow. By Tuesday, after Mr. Trump ordered a missile strike against Syria in retaliation for using chemical weapons on its own people, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson arrived in Moscow with a harsh warning that Russia had better give up its support of Mr. Assad. He was greeted with a cold shoulder, denied a meeting with Mr. Putin as no secretary of state has been on a first visit to Moscow going back to the days of Cordell Hull in World War II. Back in Washington, the White House held a briefing accusing Russia of shielding Syria’s chemical weapons attack on civilians. The Russians have responded with harsh language of their own. On Tuesday, Mr. Putin compared Mr. Trump’s action in Syria to President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. And Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev suggested that Mr. Trump has turned out not to be what he presented himself to be during last year’s campaign. “That’s it,” he wrote on Facebook last week. “The last remaining election fog has lifted.” In the end, he said, Mr. Trump was “broken by the existing power machine” in Washington. Mr. Morrell said on Tuesday that despite calling Mr. Trump a virtual Russian agent, he always believed Russian behavior would lead to a parting of the ways. “This seems to be happening now,” he said. But he noted that Mr. Trump has left it to Mr. Tillerson and others rather than speaking out himself. “He needs to do that, and he needs to be critical of the large number of other aggressive actions that Putin has undertaken over the past two years,” Mr. Morrell said. Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director for Hillary Clinton ’s campaign last year, said the shift in tone in recent days did not mean there was not collusion during the election. “Everything we believed happened in the election could be true — Putin wanted him to be president and the administration took the action it took last week,” she said. “It could all be part of the master ruse — or Putin could be upset about it.” Either way, she said, “There’s no evidence that it changes anything I think happened in the election or that Democrats should back off investigations. And moreover, it’s really weird that he himself hasn’t said anything.” Mr. Trump will have the opportunity on Wednesday when he hosts NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg. European leaders will be listening to what Mr. Trump has to say, given that during the campaign he criticized NATO even as he praised Mr. Putin. Aides to Mr. Trump have been frustrated at the focus on the Russia investigations and the assumptions that the president’s associates did something wrong even though several officials have said no evidence has emerged that proves collusion with Russia. They blame the media for creating a false narrative that they see as now disproved. How, they ask, could Mr. Trump’s team have made secret deals with Russia if his own secretary of state cannot even get a meeting? “It’s interesting that we went from all of these direct links to Russia to now are we disappointed that we can’t even get a meeting with him,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary. “There is a bit of irony in the question.” Eric Trump voiced that sentiment in an interview with London’s Daily Telegraph published on Tuesday. The younger Mr. Trump said his father was influenced to retaliate against Syria for using chemical weapons on civilians in part by his sister Ivanka, who was “heartbroken and outraged” by the atrocity. Even though some question the president’s approach to Russia, Eric Trump said his father would not be “pushed around” by Mr. Putin. “He is not a guy who gets intimidated,” he said. The back-and-forth over Russia left lawmakers trying to make sense of it. “It speaks to the broader incoherence of this administration’s foreign policy,” said Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut. “The change in rhetoric on Russia is head-spinning. I’m glad to see it and I hope it continues, but so far the only thing we know about this administration’s foreign policy is that it will probably change in a week or two.” But Mr. Murphy said the congressional intelligence committees still need to investigate what happened in last year’s election. If the shift in tone from the administration happened two months ago, he said, it might have undercut that determination more. But since then, he said, more evidence has emerged. “There’s now some pretty important meat on the bones of this story,” he said. “The imperative remains to get to the bottom of it.” Get politics and Washington news updates via Facebook , Twitter and in the Morning Briefing newsletter . Go to MSN Home

Similar news on News

White House: Supreme Court choice could be announced Monday

2017-02-01 13:16:04
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A White House official says President Donald Trump could announce his pick for the Supreme Court as early as Monday. Trump originally said the announcement would come on...

Trump Set to Make His Supreme Court Pick

2017-02-01 13:16:05
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has settled on his first Supreme Court nominee and is poised to reveal his selection early this week, two officials say, in an announcement that many inside...

Trump to name Supreme Court nominee this week

2017-02-01 13:16:07
Trump to name Supreme Court nominee this week Jan. 29, 2017 SEND PDF WASHINGTON – The fight over filling the Supreme Court escalates this week when President Donald Trump announces his nominee...

President Donald Trump poised to reveal his selection for Supreme Court early this week

2017-02-01 13:16:08
President Donald Trump has settled on his first Supreme Court nominee and is poised to reveal his selection early this week, two officials say, in an announcement that many inside the White House...

Trump set to make his Supreme Court pick as part of a frenetic Week 2

2017-02-01 13:16:08
Trump set to make his Supreme Court pick as part of a frenetic Week 2 By Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica, CNN Updated 0031 GMT (0831 HKT) January 30, 2017 Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out...

Similar news on Media

Ask HN: Is a master degree in CS worth it

2017-02-01 16:02:56
The other big upside to me was that I could keep working full time while studying. The opportunity cost calculation looks a fair bit different when you're giving up (less quantifiable) leisure time...

Tech world rushes to counteract Trump ban

2017-02-01 16:03:01
screw these 'one world' elitists. void ALL h1b visas, force them to hire americans!!

Trump defends executive order: ‘This is not a Muslim ban’

2017-02-01 16:03:09
You are aware that this ban results in Green Card Holders and other, non-immigrant visa holders (like H1B) being stranded outside the US? They went through the entire immigration process - so what...

Apple, Amazon and the Fed all compete for attention in the week ahead

2017-02-01 16:04:06
Apple, Amazon and the Fed all compete for attention in the week ahead CNBC 1 hr ago Patti Domm Markets will be busy with economic reports and earnings, but Washington could continue to overshadow...

Don’t Watch The New Fifty Shades Darker Video If You Hate PDA

2017-02-01 16:05:05
Deepa Lakshmin deepa 10m ago If Taylor Swift and Zayn 's "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" music video wasn't handsy enough for you, fear not. The latest Fifty Shades Darker clip, titled "Date Night,"...

Similar news on Washington

‘American Horror Story’ Season 7 Adds Billie Lourd & Evan Peters; Inspired By US Presidential Elections

2017-04-15 06:00:09
11:38 PM EDT Here’s the latest on ‘American Horror Story’ Season 7. (Photo : YouTube / American Horror Story 7) Billie Lourd has joined the cast of anthology horror television series,...

and finally the introduction....

2017-04-15 06:00:14
The Goddess of All Things, Nyx, a bird with black wings arose naked from sky so that she could dance upon the waves. Catching the north wind at her back and, rubbing it between her hands, she...

Media Star Wars Battlefront 2

2017-04-15 06:00:22
Video Games and Video Game Collectibles / MEDIA: Star Wars Battlefront 2 If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link below. You may have to register before you...

Rumor - The Even More Malignant New Rumor Intellectual Thread of Seriousness for Sophisticated Discourse | Page 1042

2017-04-15 06:00:34
PymParticles said: ↑ Darth_Voider said: ↑ Pfff, when they said "big announcement on GMA about something 40 years in the making" I immediately knew that they were overhyping it again. When GMA...

"Star Wars Battlefront II" trailer leaks out a few days early

2017-04-15 06:00:48
EA promised to reveal a trailer for its Star Wars Battlefront sequel on April 15th during the Star Wars Celebration event, but it appears to have popped up online a bit early. The 30-second teaser...

Similar news on Capitals

‘American Horror Story’ Season 7 Adds Billie Lourd & Evan Peters; Inspired By US Presidential Elections

2017-04-15 06:00:09
11:38 PM EDT Here’s the latest on ‘American Horror Story’ Season 7. (Photo : YouTube / American Horror Story 7) Billie Lourd has joined the cast of anthology horror television series,...

and finally the introduction....

2017-04-15 06:00:14
The Goddess of All Things, Nyx, a bird with black wings arose naked from sky so that she could dance upon the waves. Catching the north wind at her back and, rubbing it between her hands, she...

Media Star Wars Battlefront 2

2017-04-15 06:00:22
Video Games and Video Game Collectibles / MEDIA: Star Wars Battlefront 2 If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link below. You may have to register before you...

Rumor - The Even More Malignant New Rumor Intellectual Thread of Seriousness for Sophisticated Discourse | Page 1042

2017-04-15 06:00:34
PymParticles said: ↑ Darth_Voider said: ↑ Pfff, when they said "big announcement on GMA about something 40 years in the making" I immediately knew that they were overhyping it again. When GMA...

"Star Wars Battlefront II" trailer leaks out a few days early

2017-04-15 06:00:48
EA promised to reveal a trailer for its Star Wars Battlefront sequel on April 15th during the Star Wars Celebration event, but it appears to have popped up online a bit early. The 30-second teaser...