Two to three years ago, especially when oil prices were extremely low, and tensions became high after the annexation of Crimea along with the crumbling ruble, Moscow indeed was nervous about both the West’s attitude to Russia and the damage it could do to its economy and security.
Now with the insanity further heightened in Washington to bring down Trump over contacts and direct communication between a Trump cabinet official to be at the time and the Russian ambassador, Moscow is probably shaking its head with disdain and almost pity.
Their view, my best guess is they consider the infighting over policy on Russia in Washington to be shambolic. That the so-called “War Party” of the Senator McCains and Grahams, along with much of the main media and the Democrats are out to create chaos at best within the Trump administration or presidential impeachment over even the smallest outreach by Trump and his inner circle, towards Russia. As a result, Moscow is further feeling that it is folly to get into any serious “detente” discussions.
In fact with the ongoing restructuring of the Russian economy, making it even more agriculturally self-sufficient and with its evermore successful pivot eastward (to Asia, particularly China) it is doing better. It also has better relations with OPEC members to keep oil prices higher. Then there are rising European politicians who do not see it so important to feel so threatened by the US anti-Trump camp on their pro-Russia, anti-sanctions views.
Again, the price of oil is going in the right direction, a resource to which so many Russian government revenues are generated from. The ruble, the Russian currency has largely stabilized and is one of the better performing currencies, worldwide. As well, the Chinese government is weaning off the US dollar and accepts more transactions in rubles. This means that the US Federal Reserve cannot use currency manipulation so easily to do in the Russian currency and hence, Russian economy.
Further to this, Putin has consolidated his power as a popular reaction to the increasingly boring but irritating “screaming” by people like McCain against the Russian leadership. So much so that Russia may be ignoring missile treaties, to some extent, it signed with America. That and more buzzing of US warships by Russia, simply speaking does not show that Russia respects the heightened hostile tone in much of Washington, particularly in the context of the above strengthened Russia. That is not good.
Russians are not impressed with so violent outbreaks of protests and madness in the US with the smell of government overthrow. Top actresses like Meryl Streep calling Trump and his people being next to Nazi Brownshirts does not make Russians want to emulate America and her doing it very much in the public to large audiences is disconcerting. Madonna announcing to protesters she thought about burning down the White House is not what Russians want to see in their country.
Many westerner human rights activists accepting the idea of there being little or no punishment against a group that defaced the inside of their main cathedral is not what Russians want. Excusing such actions because the defacing group were feminists is not what Russians want. You get my drift. Many Russians are more normative in wanting both civil yet open dialogue about differences. This is Russia not the fascist image some of the wacky US liberals are trying to portray it as.
It does not want its society also to be infected by what it considers to be chaos and excess political correctness of the West. The Russian people, now more than ever are focussed in external relations with Asia, emerging markets and some of their European and ex Soviet Republic neighbors. They are very worried of the potential social corruption from the West to its largely orthodox society that might happen if it overly reaches westward. They certainly do not want the level of drug abuse nor southside Chicagos.
In fact, there is probably a growing crowd in the Kremlin and Russian parliament that thinks that President Putin places too much time and energy staying positive towards the West by using terminology to describe Washington still as a partner. They see the actions and views of Senator McCain almost like a declaration of war or at least making it clear that much of Congressional Washington (and the bureaucracy) is an enemy to the Russian people.
The West needs to remember that such a sizeable anti-detente faction is very much alive in Moscow and has substantial potential to grow and get Moscow back to a more fully out and out Cold War. But then maybe that is what the US War Party wants and parts of the US military industrial complex. No surprise there and their putrid “hatred” of those who want to bust their asses for peace.
With the modernization of their ballistic missiles almost completed, with highly advanced technology in soldiering and cyberspace defence, Moscow less and less is concerned about NATO creep and certainly any invasions. Its hold over energy supplies to Europe is powerful as well as its alliance with China and improved relationships with the huge India.
With Brexit and populist, friendlier political groups to Moscow rising in status, the divisions in the West are such that Russia is less concerned with western power. Besides the percent of global GNP of the West to the world has been shrinking significantly over decades with Asia particularly on the rise. That pattern is even more so for the US.
Therefore, particularly given the low level of economic activity between the US and Russian economies and Russia’s more self-reliance and greater economic stability, Moscow will wait for the dust to settle in Washington, if it ever does. It does not want to go into serious talks with an administration that is still in great need of consolidating its power over the bureaucracy and through Congress. It is also one in only its early weeks not seemingly solidly set knowing the details of what it wants from Moscow, NATO, etc.
It may be as Professor Stephen Cohen of Princeton has indicated that the War Party in Washington would rather “blow-up” the Trump administration (and even itself) to prevent any rapprochement between Moscow and the US government. As Trump realizes that, he may just figure for now to back off with having any serious dialogues with Putin as he has much bigger fish to fry in a fight with Washington over Obamacare and taxes.
For now, Putin can keep on saying soothing words of encouragement to Trump about wanting a better relationship and can largely ignore the War Party. This is easier as it is likely that many western corporations are increasingly finding workable ways around sanctions anyway. That in much of Europe these sanctions may peter out (in impact) as the Europeans feel the need to do so and establish a more self-supporting independent defence and foreign policy as the Trump administration has been essentially encouraging.
As I have mentioned, I have lived in Russia and have seen what is happening at the ground level. McCain and Graham and their likes are wasting their time with their overall, histrionics against the Russian government. The only benefit I can see from it is primarily an increase in profits for the US arms industry with worsening relations with Moscow. It is a huge industry in America and the US military is an important employer in some senators’ districts, including Graham’s.
So be it, we shall likely have a retrenchment to a new Cold War because of it. There will be more risk of war, higher deficits among the US and other western country fiscal basket cases with faster expanding military budgets in a hurry. There could be less control ensuring of value for money so as to accelerate the so-called standing up to the false Russian boogeyman.
Those who bring these facts out will be called traitors and Putin stooges by the Washington-media complex like some bad Orwellian novel. A fair question is to ask whether individuals of such persuasion who have important audiences will be harassed by certain western security officials with preference for those such as Hillary/Obama and liberal interventionists. And their compromising those holding a view for more balanced attitudes to Russia. I will enjoy any such silly characterizations proving my view that democracy also needs work and development in the West, not only Russia – no moral equivalency intended by the way.
“I love the (atomic) bomb, hate Putin and want to kiss McCain on two cheeks.” If I say so, do I now get more main media coverage and appreciation from the liberal interventionist elites. So many others are worried about saying anything positive about Russia out of fear and desperation that they will be isolated and crippled in any western mainstream liberal circles, especially the media and security bureaucracies. Oops that sounds so authoritarian to free speech but you get my ironic drift.
I am certainly no giant fan of everything Moscow does. But I believe the ridiculous overreactions to Moscow just support my thesis that the West is losing its political mojo. Such massive orchestrated, fake news of the anti-Moscow campaign underscores it. The West is losing confidence and even Prime Minister May of England worries about the future of western civilization. Hence my view that certain western elites are using Russia in part to divert from the realissues needing attention, the internal decline.
Too much of the West -though certainly, not all- is morally and fiscally weak and rotten inside and we need to heal ourselves first more than dump on Russia. How could one explain the major bank meltdown that happened on Wall Street but the same did not happen in Moscow City? Is critical thinking anywhere about Russia among western elites? But that won’t happen. It is not in their interest as they see it.
I am afraid until we play more stupid political games as we see so sadly being played out by Washington and even in Brussels against Russia, the turning point will not happen. That is until a serious majority of Americans are thoroughly sickened by the War Party against Russia. It could be coming within the Trump mandate but more time will be needed
I now doubt evermore with National Security Adviser Flynn’s “execution” prepped by bad elements in the security bureaucracy that peace with Russia will come at least soon. But President Trump has been known to surprise, including his counterpart, Mr.Putin.
We shall see in likely years, than months ahead if they can promote real detente over their serious critics within their governments. For now, Trump has the more Herculan task to do so. Detente can happen despite the many obstructionists just ask Henry Kissinger, or even the national security people still around who were with President Ronald Reagan.
Just believe it that the Democrats and their media and activist supporters will try to make it mission impossible, screaming every day and “fire balling” the Trump government, if they feel they have to with an ever concerned American electorate shaking their heads. Once the electorate gets fully fed up with the obstructions against this administration, including on Russia, watch out.