Teleconference: What is the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations?

Relations between the United States and Russia continue to plummet. New sanctions legislation in Washington – which arrived on President Trump’s desk with a veto-proof majority – prompted not only the ejection of U.S. diplomats from Russia, but a declaration by Prime Minister Medvedev on the “end of hope” for improved ties.

At the same time, Presidents Trump and Putin seem to want to preserve some political space for the possibility of better days. How entrenched is the current state of affairs? Are there avenues left for cooperation?

Listen in as three veteran Russia-watchers assess prospects for the relationship and unpack the Trump-Putin dynamic.

 

Key Quotes:

Jane Harman:

“The passage of that [sanctions] legislation and other recent developments... have prompted a recalibration by some officials, both in our country and in Russia and around the world, of what is the US-Russia relationship.”

“I’m hopeful that the future of U.S.-Russia relations, despite this bump, is positive.” 

Aaron David Miller:

“[The relationship] seems to be driven by profound – some would say, irreconcilable – differences between the United States and Russia, as well as a new factor, which I guess you could describe as the permanent ‘domesticization’ of Russia as a domestic and foreign policy issue.”

“We can’t afford a collapse of the relationship, obviously, so the real question is how do we go forward?” 

Maxim Trudolyubov:

“The view from the Kremlin was, and remains, stubbornly geopolitical.”

“[Russia] inherited a global view, a global reach, and, in a way, a habit of being a global power.”

“So we have a chain of failures on the Russian part on the one hand, but on the other hand, there is a certain audacity and self-confidence of someone in the Kremlin... of someone who thinks that they are in systemic, existential danger and [that] they have to fight back.”

William Pomeranz:

“One of the reasons why this current sanctions regime has been so successful is that the United States and the EU have worked in tandem.”

“Putin’s actions were predictable – he had to respond – so it’s not surprising that he decided to lower the presence of U.S. officials and Russian workers at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. But the bottom line is that these sanctions are here to stay, they will continue to have an impact on U.S.-Russian relations, and it means that whatever Trump has envisioned as part of his bold plan, he will not be able to realize [it].” 

Andrew Weiss:

“There’s a lot of mythmaking and not a lot of dispassionate talk about just how hard this problem is.” 

“If you were to take the senior spokespeople of the administration at face value... those all look like normal aspects of a policy to deal with the Russia problem. My concern is... there’s such a huge disconnect between where Trump is on these issues and where the serious people on his national security team are.”

Speakers

Introduction

Moderator

Panelists