The American “deep state” continued a vigorous pushback against President Trump’s declared intention to re-set relations with Russia. Regular leaks of classified information by administration and intelligence officials sustained media reports of Russian “meddling” in US elections, revealed fired FBI chief James Comey’s internal memos and exposed contacts of senior Trump campaign officials with Russia.The administration struggled to counter this nexus of political, intelligence and media agencies against it. 
 
Amidst this furore, President Trump accepted a telephone call from President Putin on 2nd May for a conversation described by the Kremlin as “business-like and constructive” and by the White House as “very good”. They talked mainly about Syria, agreeing that their Foreign Ministers would work on some ideas for a political settlement. Foreign Minister Lavrov’s visit to Washington on May 10 generated fresh controversies, as the media reported (again based on helpful leaks from intelligence sources) that President Trump shared with FM Lavrov sensitive intelligence about ISIS operations, thereby compromising the source of that intelligence (which later leaks identified as Israel).
 
Cooperation on Syria continued largely below the news radar. US criticism of Russia’s role in Afghanistan was muted. President Trump’s pronouncements at the NATO and G7 Summits and readouts of his discussions with European leaders indicated attenuation of the anti-Russian rhetoric. The agitation in the Western media on President Trump’s omission to reiterate US commitment to Article V of NATO’s founding treaty (under which an attack on any NATO member will be treated as an attack on all) was precisely because Article V was drafted specifically in the context of the Soviet threat. In his speech at a NATO event in Brussels, President Trump clubbed “threats from Russia” with those from “NATO’s eastern and southern borders”.The White House readout of his meeting with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission said they agreed to deepen security cooperation “in fighting ISIS, combating radicalization, and responding to other common threats” – with no mention of Russia, Ukraine or Crimea.
 
Developments in and around Syria and on Russia’s relations with major EU countries seemed to reflect this change in US emphasis. However, on the experience of the Trump Administration’s record so far, it is too early to predict what it means for a more comprehensive re-set of USA’s Russia policy. The Russians themselves have been circumspect: while occasionally criticizing aspects of US policy, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokespersons have been careful to avoid any criticism of President Trump. In a number of interviews, President Putin has acknowledged President Trump’s genuine interest in improving relations and has shown cautious optimism about it, even while hinting that the “deep state” (without using the term) might sabotage it. 
 
 
May 30, 2017

 

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Ananta Centre to add comments!

Join Ananta Centre

About the Author

Ambassador PS Raghavan

Former Ambassador of India to Russia; Convener, National Security Advisory Board

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.

You need to be a member of Ananta Centre to add comments!

Join Ananta Centre

Featured Video